Marboeuf Dragons

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Origin and History

The regiment was created on October 4, 1676 as “Barbezières” and raised in Languedoc.

In 1677 and 1678, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment campaigned in Germany and Flanders.

On August 10, 1678, the regiment became the property of the House of Cassagnet de Tilladet.

In 1683, the regiment was at the camp of the Sarre; and in 1684, at the camp of Flanders under Boufflers.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment served on the Rhine. In 1690, it was transferred to Italy and contributed to the victory of Staffarda. In 1691, it took part in the Combat of Susa. In 1692, it was recalled to Flanders and fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen. It then campaigned in Flanders until the end of the war.

In 1701, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was sent to Italy. In 1702, the regiment distinguished itself at the defence of Cremona, it was also present at the Battle of Luzzara and at the capture of Guastalla. In 1703, the regiment was sent back to France. In 1705, it was sent to the Cévennes to quench the revolt of the Camisards. In 1706, it was present at the disastrous Battle of Turin. From 1707, it served on the frontier of Dauphiné. In 1713, it campaigned in Germany and contributed to the capture of Landau.

In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1719-20), the regiment was part of the Army of Spain and contributed to the capture of San Sebastian, Fuenterrabia and Urgell.

In 1722, the regiment was stationed in Lorraine. In 1727, it was at the camp of the Sambre.

On December 12, 1724, the regiment became the property of the House of Condé until the death of Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon on February 21, 1740.

In 1733, at the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served with the Army of the Rhine and took part in the siege of Kehl. In 1734, it was at the siege of Philippsburg. In 1735, it fought in the Battle of Clausen. On its return to France, it was stationed at Stenay.

In 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment joined the Army of Flanders. In 1743, the regiment went from Dunkerque to Germany and fought in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, the regiment took part in the siege of Menin; in 1745, in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the capture of Tournai, Oudenarde, Termonde and Ath; in 1746, in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the capture of Antwerp and in the siege of Berg-op-Zoom; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Périgueux; in 1750, at Sainte-Foy; in 1752, at Besançon; in 1753, at the camp of Gray and then at Pont-Saint-Esprit; and in 1755, at Castres and Strasbourg.

After various colonels, the Marquis de Marboeuf acquired the regiment on July 11, 1755.

By 1756, the regiment counted 4 squadrons and ranked 15th.

In November 1761, the ownership of the regiment passed to the House of Moreton de Chabrillant.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from July 11, 1753: Charles Louis René, Marquis de Marboeuf
  • from November 30, 1761 to June 5, 1763: Jacques Aymard de Moreton, Comte de Chabrillant

In 1774, the regiment became the “Dragons de Monsieur le Comte de Provence”.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was at La Ferté-Macé, Mortain and at the camp of Granville.

By August 1, 1757, the four squadrons of the regiment were stationed at Guingamp in Bretagne. Two squadrons then remained in France to guard the Coasts of Bretagne while the two others were sent to Haguenau and later joined the French army in Germany.

On September 11, 1758, the two squadrons operating in Bretagne took part in the Combat of Saint-Cast.

In 1759, the regiment was re-united at Vienne (France) on the banks of the Rhône. The same year, it was sent back to the Coasts of Bretagne for the planned expedition against Scotland, but the project was canceled.

In 1760, two squadrons were sent to Germany once more. The two other squadrons remained in Bretagne and were posted between Carhaix, Guéménée, Guincamp, Chatelaudren and Pontivy.

In May 1761, the two squadrons operating in Germany were allocated to the Prince Xaxier Comte de Lusace, which was assembling at Fulda.

In 1763, the entire regiment was assembled at Pontivy.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753,
and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe
Headgear red fatigue cap with a red turn-up edged with a white braid decorated with a violet stripe
or black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small white button
Neck stock black cravate
Coat red lined red with white buttons and white laced buttonholes arranged 3 by 3 down to the pocket and a white button on each side at the small of the back
Collar small red collar
Shoulder straps left shoulder: red shoulder strap bordered with a white braid decorated with a violet stripe and fastened with a small white button

right shoulder: fringed white and violet epaulette

Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pocket flaps, each with 3 white buttons and 3 white laced buttonholes
Cuffs red, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white laced buttonholes
Turnbacks red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat red with white buttons on the right side and white laced buttonholes on both sides
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather stitched white
Waistbelt buff leather stitched white
Cartridge Pouch red leather
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear buckled shoes with oiled calf leather soft bottines (sort of leather gaiters) or, for foot service, white gaiters
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red bordered with a white braid decorated with a violet stripe
Housings red bordered with a white braid decorated with a violet stripe


N.B.: the fatigue cap was supposed to be worn only for the king's review, for foraging or when the regiment's chief ordered to wear it. In fact, dragoons often wore their fatigue cap during campaigns.

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a pistol and a sabre. Carabiniers were armed with a rifle instead of a musket.

Evolution of the uniform during the war

Throughout the war the French dragoon uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary sources for the uniform at the start of the conflict are the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:

  • a black bearskin with a red bag and tassel instead of a tricorne
  • no laced buttonholes on the coat, pocket flaps, cuffs and waistcoat
  • no buttons on the cuffs
  • black cavalry boots

Raspe's publication illustrating the uniform towards the end of 1761 shows a uniform corresponding to our description from 1757 but with a white cockade at the tricorne.

In December 1762, a regulation introduced a brand new green uniform with aurore (light orange) as the distinctive colour.

Officers

The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:

  • the coat was made of Elbeuf woollen cloth (or of a woollen cloth of identical quality)
  • linings were made of woollen cloth as well
  • no braids on the coat or waistcoat but only silver buttonholes with silver plated wooden buttons
    • Raspe publication illustrates, at the end of 1760, plain red coat and waistcoat without edging or laced buttonholes
    • Raspe publication illustrates, at the end of 1761, a uniform corresponding to our description
  • red breeches
  • saddle cloth and housings bordered with a silver braid (5.41 cm wide for captains and 4.06 cm wide for lieutenants)
  • standard cavalry officer sword (gilt copper hilt, 83.92 cm long)

Officers were also armed with a musket and a bayonet and carried a cartridge pouch containing 6 cartridges. This musket was shorter than the muskets carried by troopers.

The maréchaux-des-logis and sergeants had similar uniforms made of Romorantin woolen cloth. Their coats and waistcoats had no silver buttonholes. They carried sabres like the maréchaux-des-logis of the cavalry regiments. Their saddle-clothes and housings were bordered with a 2.7 cm wide silver braid.

Musicians

Drummers wore a coat similar to the one worn by the musicians of the cavalry. Musicians were always shaved and had no moustache. They were usually mounted on grey horses.

From 1753 to 1761, drummers of the regiment wore uniforms at the livery of the House of Marboeuf which is unfortunately unknown. From 1761, they wore the livery of the House of Moreton de Chabrillan. As per a watercolour dated from 1748 in the collection of the prince de la Moskova and described J. Belaubre (N°6/1957 S.C.F.H.) from a manuscript of the Weimar Library (Cabinet des Estampes):

Coat without collar fasted by 6 silver buttons, green cuffs and turnbacks. White braid decorated with a green waved braid and green speckles in the trough of each “wave”. This braid was laid-out in widely spaced vertical bands on the front of the coat down to the belt, on the seams of the sleeves, and on the edges of the cuffs, turnbacks and pockets. Green waistcoat edged with the same braid. Green breeches. White cravate, black tricorne laced gold and bordered with white plumes with a black cockade. Red saddle cloth bordered with the same braid. Trumpets had red aprons fringed in gold embroidered with the golden crowned arms with a scroll beneath bearing an unreadable motto.

Guidons

Regimental guidons (4 silken swallow-tailed guidons): crimson field embroidered and fringed in silver; centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a red scroll bearing the motto “NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR”

Marboeuf Dragons Regimental Guidon – Source: Jean-Louis Vial of Nec Pluribus Impar

References

This article is mostly a translation Jean-Louis Vial's article “Marboeuf Dragons” published on his website Nec Pluribus Impar. The article also incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 1, Paris: Hetzel, 1874, pp. 336-345
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 435-436

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761

Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1762

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Service Historique de l'armée de terre: Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.